Former India opener Gautam Gambhir, who played a pivotal role in India’s triumphs at the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ICC World Cup, has opened up on the problem of “hero worship” in Indian cricket. During a conversation with The Indian Express, where he was asked about the topic, Gambhir gave examples of Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the match against Afghanistan in the recently concluded Asia Cup.
The match Gambhir was referring to was a dead rubber as both Sri Lanka and Pakustan had already cemented their respective spots in the final. India recorded a huge win in the match with Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar headlining the win.
Kohli scored his maiden T20I century, which also was his first in international cricket in close to three years. The knock was hailed by everyone and as a result, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s five-wicket haul went completely unnoticed.
Gambhir said the culture of “hero worship” leads to these problems.
“When Kohli got a 100 and there was this young guy from a small town of Meerut (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) who also managed to get five wickets, no one even bothered to speak about him. This was so unfortunate. I was the only one, during that commentary stint, who said that. He bowled four overs and got five wickets and I don’t think anyone knows about that. But Kohli scores a 100 and there are celebrations everywhere in this country. India needs to come out of this hero worship. Whether it’s Indian cricket, whether it’s politics, whether it’s Delhi cricket. We have to stop worshipping heroes. The only thing that we need to worship is Indian cricket, or for that matter Delhi or India.
“Who created that? It is created by two things. First, by social media followers, which is probably the fakest thing in this country because you are judged by how many followers you have. That is what creates a brand,” Gambhir said.
“Second, by the media and the broadcasters. If you keep talking about one person day in and day out, it eventually becomes a brand. That is how it was in 1983. Why start from Dhoni? It started in 1983. When India won the first World Cup, it was all about Kapil Dev. When we won in 2007 and 2011, it was Dhoni. Who created that? None of the players did. Nor did the BCCI. Have the news channels and broadcasters ever spoken about Indian cricket? Have we ever spoken that Indian cricket needs to flourish? There are more than two or three people who are stakeholders of Indian cricket. They don’t rule Indian cricket, they should not be ruling Indian cricket. Indian cricket should be ruled by the 15 people sitting in that dressing room. Everyone has a contribution to make … … I’ve never been able to follow anyone in my life. And that has been my biggest problem. The media and the broadcasters create a brand, no one else creates a brand,” he added.
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